• Mack Linebaugh

    Great post. A small correction: The content management system is called Core Publisher. Composer is a separate application offered by NPR Digital Services – a playlist scheduler for music stations.

    • Thanks for pointing that out — we’ve fixed it.

  • Aaron Read

    Here’s the bottom line: unless and until NPR.org is forced to use the same platform that NPR Digital Services provides to member stations, two things will be true:

    First: NPR:DS’s offerings will always be seen as second-rate.
    Second: NPR:DS’s offerings will always BE second-rate.

    There’s a reason why major tech companies adhere to the “eat your own dog food” ethos.

    (Note: these thoughts are my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else unless explicitly stated otherwise.)

  • B Jones

    As an NPR fan, I have read with interest news about recent staff cuts and
    responsibility “realignment” in NPR’s Member Partnership and Digital Services
    divisions, as well as the “mixed response” from client stations about the package of technology tools and services offered by Digital Services. I was shocked to discover that Digital Services is not in Washington, DC, but rather in one of the most
    expensive business areas in Boston, MA. I’m not sure where Member Partnership is headquartered.

    Since NPR offered buyouts to try to cut its staff by 10% last fall, perhaps it has office space in its new headquarters in DC to house Digital Services in a more cost-effective way? And, certainly, NPR would benefit from having all Division trying to cut the NPR deficit together in one location, with perhaps frequent trips to member stations to assess how Digital Services is improving their experience and that of NPR users. It is called NATIONAL Public Radio, after all, so a move to the nation’s capital makes sense. The government, NPR members, and other donors shouldn’t have to fund multiple locations for NPR offices when one location would suffice. Also, given the need for jobs in DC—especially jobs for underprivileged populations–the thought of having a local internship, training, and hiring program for these individuals so that they can make a place for themselves in the technology and media fields is quite attractive.

    Digital Services has had 3 years to try to meet the needs of member stations under the current contract. Perhaps the greatest need right now is not new contract terms for those stations this fall, but rather a new leader at the helm of Digital Services to bring better insight to the job. Looking at the NPR Website to view the experience of the current Digital Services VP and GM, I note that while he was vice president of product and technology at Boston.com, he was “one of the architects of the Boston.com and The Boston Globe two-brand strategy.”

    A Google search to see how that strategy fared led to a March 2014 Boston Magazine article about the Globe’s digital efforts, which indicated: “In
    2011 the Globe embarked on a so-called two-brand strategy:BostonGlobe.com was created to house the Globe’s reporting, accessible only to paid subscribers, while Boston.com remained free and was envisioned as the city’s home page: a portal for breaking news, weather, sports, lighterfare, and a handful of Globe stories. As print revenue has dropped, though, digital has not picked up the slack. The print edition of the paper accounted for $264 million in revenue in 2012, while Boston.com was good for $41 million and BostonGlobe.com, with its roughly 46,000 subscribers, a paltry $4.7 million, according to Globe numbers.” It doesn’t sound like the VP’s strategy at Boston.com resulted in great success, and the job hoppingthat he seems to have done prior to that (again, info available on the NPR Website) would lead one to believethat he left some jobs just as the errors of his management decisions would bediscovered.

    NPR is a venerable organization that will need strong management as media both retains what is productive from the past and changes to embrace the future. I hope NPR gets that leadership